I read it in the early 90s, might have been published late 80s in Canada. The story begins with a mysterious disk that appears between the sun and the Earth and starts an ice age which wipes out humanity except for a group that went deep underground and another that was on a space station. The disk disappears after a few hundred(?) years and most of the story is about the underground survivors, the terrible things that happened underground (executions of non-white non-Christians, generations of incest, dictatorship), and the rocky reunion with the survivors from space after the thaw, told from the POV of an underground survivor who became a historian. It ends with a meeting on the moon between the aliens who created the disk and the n-th generation human survivors, where we learn why the aliens did what they did and our ultimate response. :-)

  • Ray of Light? – Valorum Jun 21 '15 at 22:27
  • Thanks for the reference. Ray of Light seems to have a similar premise but it's a different story. The excerpt got me hooked, though, and I bought the novelette. :-) – RocketStackRank Jun 22 '15 at 5:00
  • What was our "ultimate response"? Do you remember any of the characters? Was this s novel or a short story? – Valorum Jun 22 '15 at 6:43
  • Our response was to avenge humanity by taking the fight to the alien's home system. I don't remember the names of any characters. The protagonist was the latest to try to escape the religious dictatorship underground by fleeing to the surface. He happened to do it when the ice had retreated enough to make survival on the surface possible. It was a novel -- I remember picking up the mass paperback in my college bookstore so it was between 1989 and 1992. – RocketStackRank Jun 22 '15 at 15:53

"Central Heat" by David Dvorkin (1988).

I saw it as a sci-fi used paperback in a store in 1995(?). Protagonist starts off underground, rescued by the humans above (but loses a stalker girlfriend in the process). Eventually marries the leader's daughter, becoming the leader of the space-faring humans themselves, and ultimately betrays his wife in order to exact revenge on the aliens that hid the Sun from Earth and caused the near-genocide devastation.

The aliens turned out to be from a nearby star that were horrified by our early radio broadcasts that upset their strict caste system. Using a "quantum leap" form of faster-than-light communication and transport (progressively larger teleport jumps), they first transported the shield that cut off solar radiation from the Sun to Earth, along with a cryptic message telling humans "to know their place".

The story ends with the aliens coming to the Moon for the first contact with humans, but the protagonist double-crosses them and captures them for their starship technology with the intent of conquering and colonizing the alien homeworld as a replacement for making Earth uninhabitable.

  • Yes, I think this is it! Now to find the author with the extra info... – RocketStackRank Jun 26 '15 at 20:44
  • Found it on Amazon. It's "Central Heat" by David Dvorkin, published in 1988. Thanks for your help, @jhpace1! – RocketStackRank Jun 26 '15 at 20:56

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